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Astralis Favored to Win IEM Katowice 2020

In the least shocking news, Astralis will be the betting favorite entering IEM Katowice.

The best CS:GO teams on the planet will descend upon Katowice, Poland, for arguably the biggest event of the Counter-Strike calendar: IEM Katowice. The top nine teams in the ESL World Rankings will be competing at the event, including Astralis, mousesports and Team Liquid.

The winning team in Poland will claim $250,000 and a step toward winning the Intel Grand Slam. The first five tournaments in the Intel Grand Slam have been won by five different teams, with Astralis, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, Liquid and mousesports all looking to pull away from the field.

How IEM Katowice Works

IEM Katowice will feature 16 teams, 10 with direct invites to the event and six earning their way through qualifiers. Those 16 teams will be split into two groups of eight, with each group playing in a double-elimination (GSL) format.

The winner of each group will advance to the semifinals. Second and third place in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals as the higher and lower seeds, respectively.

Once the playoffs begin, it is a single-elimination bracket. The quarters and semis will both be best-of-three while the Grand Final will be a best-of-five.

Everyone Chasing Astralis

In the least shocking news of 2020, Astralis will be the betting favorite entering IEM Katowice. The Danes are unquestionably the No. 1 team on the planet and widely accepted as the best to ever enter the server. Astralis won five of their last seven tournaments in 2019.

We have only seen Astralis once in 2020 ahead of IEM Katowice and that is at the BLAST Premier when they competed in Group B on the February 7 weekend. It was a dreadful showing for the Danes, as they went 0-2 with losses to Complexity (in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory) and Na'Vi.

The Danish org is also the defending IEM Katowice champion. Astralis was untouchable in 2019, winning all six of their matches and sweeping through the playoffs without dropping a single map. The team has had their ups and downs since then but Astralis is clearly regaining form after some rocky outings in the fall.

What Liquid Will We See?

IEM Katowice 2019 started as well as Liquid expected, as they went 3-0 in the group stages. Though they faced more challenges than one would expect against Avangar and Ninjas in Pyjamas, a 2-0 win over Na’Vi seemed to spell good things for the North American squad.

Then ENCE happened.

Liquid dropped their quarterfinal series to the surprising ENCE, who would eventually make it to the Grand Finals. Liquid were completely overwhelmed, allowing three of the five ENCE players to have a double-digit K/D differential. This early exit seemed to light a fire under Liquid, as the North Americans would go on a white-hot run that included the fastest IEM Grand Slam victory in history.  

A loaded schedule clearly wore on Liquid throughout 2019 and a break was supposed to help. However, they also did not look great at the BLAST Premier earlier this month. Liquid will be entering IEM Katowice 2020 looking to prove that they are still among the truly elite in CS:GO.

Is FaZe Clan Putting It Together?

The pieces have always been there for FaZe Clan to ascend to the top of the CS:GO world but something simply did not click. Their lowest point came in the fall of 2019 when FaZe flamed out of Starladder Major Berlin and ESL One New York.

This led the team to bench Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and release Filip “NEO” Kubski. Replacing them would be all-time great Marcelo “coldzera” David and youngster Helvijs “broky” Saukants. The team was immediately better, putting together a strong showing at IEM Beijing 2019 and BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen.

But the coming-out party may have happened at the BLAST Premier earlier this month. FaZe went 3-0 in Group A with a ridiculous +53 round differential. Two of those three wins came against Liquid, including an absolutely dominant performance in the Grand Finals. In those finals, FaZe won 16-9 on Mirage and then 16-2 on Dust2.

Did FaZe Clan finally click and become the dominant force they can be? Did they just take advantage of a Liquid team that has not been able to play to their peak level for months? It is hard to say. But IEM Katowice could be an incredibly important chapter in the story of FaZe Clan.

IEM Katowice 2020 Betting Odds
FaZe Clan+600
Natus Vincere+1000
Evil Geniuses+1200
100 Thieves+2000
MAD Lions+2000
Ninjas in Pyjamas+2500
ViCi Gaming+15000

Odds as of February 18 at Bovada